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1. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Jorge M. Valadez The Sociopolitical Implications of Multiculturalism
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In this essay, I propose a definition of multiculturalism and provide pragmatic and theoretical reasons for accepting the multicultural perspective when it is defined in this manner. In addition, I discuss and defend three sociopolitical principles to which we are committed in adopting the multicultural perspective and discuss some of the concrete social and institutional changes needed for implementing these principles.
2. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
John D. Jones Multiculturalism and Welfare Reform
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Multiculturalism has not yet systematically addressed, much less challenged, dominant approaches to poverty and welfare reform. This lacuna must be rectified since the widespread poverty experienced by people of color poses a substantive threat to the development of a truly inclusive and multicultural society. Present approaches to poverty, defined in the context of welfare reform, are defective for three reasons: First, welfare reform basically aims to reduce welfare “dependency” by moving so-called able-bodied welfare recipients off welfare and into the labor market. This project seems destined to fail given a chronic scarcity of jobs, and especially decent paying jobs. Second, welfare reform does not provide an adequate framework for the general alleviation of poverty since many poor receive little or no welfare assistance. Third, welfare assistance is based on an invidious, stigmatizing distinction between the able-bodied poor (viewed as unworthy and disreputable) and the disabled poor. Thus, given disproportionate rates of poverty among people of color as well as a general (but mistaken) impression that US poverty is principally a “minority” problem, present policies and attitudes toward the poor insure that many people of color will bear the brunt of economic and symbolic marginalization despite gains which accrue to some people of color as the result of greater racial and cultural inclusiveness.
3. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Jeremiah Conway Transforming Stories: The Death of Ivan Ilyich, the Birth of a Reflective Life
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The problem addressed by this paper concerns the responsibility of higher education in the growing thoughtlessness of culture. By “thoughtlessness” is meant not the absence of mental “busyness,” but indifference to the self-reflective life. How do we cope with the fact that, for so many, the educative act has little or nothing to do with the cultivation of self-reflection, especially when this indifference is amply represented within higher education as well as the wider culture? The paper unfolds in three sections. First, it explores the factors complicating the search for effective materials by which to instigate and encourage the transformation to a self-reflective life. Second, it argues that stories, particularly what it calls “transforming stories,” play an important role in provoking and providing insight into the “turning around of the soul” from unreflective to reflective living. Finally, it illustrates how one such transforming story, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy, helps accomplish this educational goal.
4. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Deirdre Golash Pluralism, Integrity, and the Interpretive Model of Law
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In Law’s Empire, Ronald Dworkin argues that the choice between conflicting interpretations of law is, and should be, influenced by the aspiration to “integrity,” that is, the construction of law as a coherent whole, as though it were the product of a single author. I argue that, particularly under conditions where opinion on relevant issues is significantly divided, the search for a single coherent explanation of law may be seriously misleading. The idea of integrity is a principled basis for legal interpretation only where there is an underlying unity, rather than an underlying plurality. Dworkin suggests that there is a basis for striving toward such unity, and for an obligation to obey the law, in our “associative” obligations to fellow members of our political community. I argue that such obligations, to the extent that they exist, are too weak to provide an adequate basis for a moral obligation to obey the law.
5. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Bart Gruzalski Healing the Ills of Unemployment, Societal Breakdown, and Ecological Degradation: Gandhi’s Vision for a Sustainable Way of Life
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In this paper I describe Gandhi’s vision for a way of life that would be an essential part of any sustainable solution to worldwide problems of unemployment, societal breakdown and ecological degradation. Gandhi’s vision included a communitarian lifestyle of simplicity and non-accumulation in which agriculture would be supported by cottage industries using appropriate technologies (e.g., spinning). Assuming obligations to future generations, Gandhi’s proposal highlights the degree to which our First-World lifestyle is morally impermissible. One objection to this criticism of our First-World lifestyles is that we can solve the problem of ecological degradation by exporting only appropriate technologies to the Third World and supplementing our use of consumptive technologies with technological cleanups. This suggestion is not only irresponsible and unjust, but also hopeless, for our resource consumptive standards are already the model for development worldwide. To counteract this destructive model we must begin to recreate, in the First World, sustainable lifestyles that others will want to emulate. Part of this task involves the inner work that has been a casualty of the ideologies of modernity, and Gandhi’s vision is a blueprintfor both the outer and inner work that are essential to recreate a sustainable society.
6. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Michael K. Briand Democratic Public Judgment: The Role of “Mutual Comprehension”
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The need to choose between good things in conflict lies at the heart of politics. Only citizens deliberating together can authoritatively form the democratic public judgment necessary to resolve such conflicts. The key step to arriving at a sound widely supported public judgment is getting all members of the public to “comprehend”---to understand and appreciate---the goods in conflict. Mutual comprehension enables us to combine our individual perspectives without loss, thereby providing the basis for collective deliberation. Such comprehension is essential because the mutual respect between citizens upon which democratic politics depends is impossible without it. Mutual comprehension is possible because we share a common human nature that, despite our manifest and irreducible differences is built around a limited and universal set of human needs and dispositions.
7. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Erin McKenna Feminism and Vegetarianism: A Critique of Peter Singer
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Singer’s ethics assume an autonomous, impartial, abstract reasoner. Nonhuman animals, like human animals, have an interest in not suffering; so we all agree on an impartial, rational, consistent minimum standard of treatment that we see must extend to nonhuman animals. While I think this kind of argument works well in the “liberal” context of countries based on social contract reasoning, I am not convinced it goes far enough in achieving the desired attitude shift. We are still encouraged to think in terms of the self-interest of an autonomous, impartial, abstract reasoner, and thus there are many instances in which it is perfectly “reasonable” to harm nonhuman animals. To challenge Singer I use views of the individual proposed by socialist feminist and radical feminist theories. Both of these theories (in all their variety) propose a substantial revisioning of the individual and thereby shift the focus from rights talk to issues of responsibility and care. While there are clear dangers in these approaches as well, I believe there is a fruitful combination of Singer’s argument with these feminist approaches that will help us see the deep nature of our connectedness to nonhuman animals and make us realize that the eating of meat is really a form of cannibalism.
8. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Peter Singer Feminism and Vegetarianism: A Response
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Erin McKenna is correct to question the relative weight that I give to emotions and reason in Animal Liberation. In 1975 when the first edition was published, emotion played a key role in the campaigns of animal societies, and I wished to make an appeal to reason that would have ethical and political impact. I disagree with McKenna’s conclusion that an impartial, objective stance is either impossible or undesirable. I argue that we should not abandon the attempt to reach an impartial position. Admittedly, in some disputes, giving equal weight to all interests will be extraordinarily difficult. But to do so is not impossible, just extraordinarily difficult, and a decision must be made regarding which course is better on the whole. This difficulty gives no reason to abandon impartiality.
9. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Lara M. Trout Can Justice as Fairness Accommodate Diversity?: An Examination of the Representation of Minorities and Women in A Theory of Justice
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The purpose of this paper is to expose a problem of application in John Rawls’ theory of justice. An examination of his treatment of the application of his principles in A Theory of Justice reveals an insensitivity toward the proper representation of minorities and women. This problem, which is rooted in Rawls’ conception of the relevant social position is not properly addressed by him, yet is grounded in inconsistencies which undermine the just practical implementation of his theory. A provisional solution to this problem is to provide the original position with historical information, as well as to place within its jurisdiction the application of the two principles of justice.
10. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Wallace Gray A Surprising Rediscovery and Partial Review of The Foundations of Belief by James Balfour
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Well known as the British politician responsible for the Balfour Declaration during World War I, James Balfour was also a philosopher. Long forgotten, his remarkable book The Foundations of Belief (1895) merits contemporary reassessment. Critical of modern compartmentalization, Balfour argues for an integration of religion, philosophy, and science---a position now often identified as postmodern. This article presents some of Balfour’s contemporary scholarly significance, and hints at his usefulness in undergraduate teaching.
11. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Joe Frank Jones, III Moral Growth in Children’s Literature: A Primer with Examples
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This essay applies a plausible model for moral growth to examples of secular and religious children’s literature. The point is that moral maturation, given this model, requires imaginary worlds on both secular and religious presuppositions. Trying to guide a child’s reading toward either religious or secular books rather than toward good literature is shown therefore to miss the mark of good parenting.
12. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Laura Duhan Kaplan Speaking for Myself in Philosophy
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The conventions of positivism, still the standard model for academic discourse, require philosophers to take knowledge out of the context of personal experience. In this essay, I argue that such a decontextualization impoverished the development of moral and epistemological knowledge. I propose to contextualize such knowledge by using the personal essay as a style of philosophical writing. As literary style shapes what can be thought and said, adoption of a different literary style calls for a reinterpretation of philosophy’s understanding of the self, the quest for truth, and the nature of universality.
13. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
William O. Stephens Five Arguments for Vegetarianism
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Five different arguments for vegetarianism are discussed: the system of meat production deprives poor people of food to provide meat for the wealthy, thus violating the principle of distributive justice; the world livestock industry causes great and manifold ecological destruction; meat-eating cultures and societal oppression of women are intimately linked and so feminism and vegetarianism must both be embraced to transform our patriarchal culture; both utilitarian and rights-based reasoning lead to the conclusion that raising and slaughtering animals is immoral, and so we ought to boycott meat; meat consumption causes many serious diseases and lowers life expectancy, and so is unhealthy. Objections to each argument are examined. The conclusion reached is that the cumulative case successfully establishes vegetarianism as a virtuous goal.
14. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
William Aiken Is Deep Ecology Too Radical?
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The theory of Deep Ecology is characterized as having two essential features: the belief that nature is inherently valuable, and the belief that one’s self is truly realized by identification with nature. Four common but different meanings of the term “radical” are presented. Whether the theory of Deep Ecology is “too radical” depends upon which of these meanings one is using.
15. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 1 > Issue: 4
Henny Wenkart Feminist Revaluation of the Mythical Triad, Lilith, Adam, Eve: A Contribution to Role Model Theory
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This essay inquires into the need for and power of role models, and suggests some answers. The example it employs to study the issue is the contemporary Jewish feminist “role model,” Lilith, first wife of Adam. Various and opposite forms of the Lilith-and-Adam myth through the ages are given, including new contributions from a Lilith anthology in preparation by the author and others. Those needs of women and men that the mythical “role model” is constructed to satisfy are suggested.
16. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Jessica Miller Trust in Strangers, Trust in Friends
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Recent literature on trust commonly contains the claim that the trust which characterizes intimate relationships is a different phenomenon altogether from the trust that characterizes professional and other sorts of non-intimate relationships. In this paper I argue that while there are important differences among kinds of trust, an invidious distinction between trust in strangers and trust infriends is not only unwarranted but it obscures the fundamentally affective and relational base of all forms of interpersonal trust. In this essay I construct an account of interpersonal trust, which recognizes the similarities that pervade its different forms. Without such a complex approach, we lose theoretical sight not only of key features of trust, but of the relationship of trust to significant dimensions of human existence.
17. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Thomas D. Kennedy Duties of Neighbors: Patriotism, Projects and Fiduciary Bonds of Nearness
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A primary fiduciary bond, rarely examined, is that of neighbor. I distinguish this bond from others that may overlap it, those of fellow citizen or compatriot. I argue that the nature of moral identity and the nature of moral formation require moral agents to acknowledge the fiduciary duties of neighbor.
18. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Evelyn Keyes Representative Democracy and the Public Trust
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The “Idea of Intrinsic Equality” is central to democracy, but in what respects are persons intrinsically equal, and what requirements, if any, does their equality impose on a process for making collective decisions? This paper seeks to answer that question with respect to our own representative democracy. It examines three theories of collective decision-making that arguably characterize the democratic process under the United States Constitution. It concludes that, while all preserve the Idea of Intrinsic Equality in the election of representatives and legislative voting, only the third theory, Democratic Egalitarianism, which treats all like interests alike in promulgating laws and preserves the fundamental liberties of all, both preserves the Idea of Intrinsic Equality throughout the legislative process and fulfills the fiduciary mandate that legislators legislate in the interests of the people.
19. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Stephen de Wijze Democracy, Trust and the Problem of ‘Dirty Hands’
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‘Dirty hands’ scenarios require politicians to commit moral violations to achieve worthwhile goals. To mitigate the harm done to the fiduciary relationship underlying a democratic society, I argue for the adoption of two procedures: retrospective accountability and special oversight committees. I also offer three criteria for a much-required political ethic.
20. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Robert Paul Churchill, Stiv Fleishman, Joe Frank Jones III Introduction for the Special Issue on Fiduciary Ethics